October 6, 1947: Joe Page leads Yankees to Game 7 win over Dodgers
The World Series headed into a seventh game for the third year in a row. Brooklyn’s come-from-behind victory in the sixth game gave Dodgers fans hope that this might be their year. The team had never won the championship in three previous appearances. The last time they appeared in the postseason classic, the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in five games.
Pitching had been a struggle for the Dodgers throughout the Series. Only one Dodgers pitcher went more than five innings through the first six games. Manager Burt Shotton “had to take recourse to magic to keep the Dodgers in [the Series].”1
Yankees manager Bucky Harris made a curious strategic move when he tagged Frank “Spec” Shea to start the decisive game on one day’s rest. Shea had thrown a complete game and led the Yankees to victory in the fifth game. Harris hoped he still had some of the magic from that game to push the Yankees to the crown.
Harris also sent Aaron Robinson to take up duties behind the plate. He placed Yogi Berra in right field replacing Johnny Lindell, who had been injured in the previous game. Berra had struggled to keep the Dodgers from stealing throughout the Series but the Yankees needed his bat.
Eddie Stanky led off with a single but “he was nailed by Robinson’s fine throw to Snuffy Stirnweiss. Pee Wee Reese then walked and had larceny in his heart, too. [Aaron] Robinson also cut him down with a swift peg to Phil Rizzuto.”2 The Dodgers stole seven stolen bases off the other Yankees catchers but wouldn’t make another attempt after Robinson’s accurate throws in the first stopped their thieving.
Shea managed to get out of the first inning but he struggled in the second as a blister began to form on the middle finger of his pitching hand. “[I]t was apparent that the young right-hander wasn’t up to his best with one day’s rest.”3
Dixie Walker opened the second by fouling out, then Gene Hermanski tripled down the right-field line. The ball came off the low wall and took an unexpected bounce. Berra couldn’t get to the ball quickly enough and Hermanski ended up on third. Bruce Edwards singled to bring Hermanski home and give the Dodgers the lead.
When Carl Furillo followed with another single, Harris brought in Bill Bevens. Spider Jorgensen belted a drive to right field. The ball bounced into the stands and Jorgensen was awarded a double. Edwards was the sole runner allowed to cross the plate. Bevens snuffed out the next two batters to end the Dodgers’ rally. But Brooklyn had grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Brooklyn’s starter, Hal Gregg, had pitched seven innings, the longest of any Dodgers pitcher in the Series, in the fourth game. He managed to get through the first inning of this afternoon’s contest unscathed but his “wildness (with him it’s an occupational hazard) gave the Yankees a run in the second inning.”4
After retiring Joe DiMaggio, Gregg walked George McQuinn. He got Billy Johnson to pop out but walked Aaron Robinson on four pitches. Rizzuto hit a groundball that should have been the third out. But the ball got through Spider Jorgensen and a run scored to narrow the Dodgers lead.
The Yankees scored two more runs off Gregg in the fourth inning as he continued to struggle with his control. Gregg walked Johnson with one out. He struck out Aaron Robinson but Rizzuto ripped a single to put Johnson in scoring position. With two outs, Bevens pleaded to be allowed to bat but Harris “refused to see the tying runs die on base while a sore-armed pitcher went to bat.”5
Harris called on rookie Bobby Brown to pinch-hit. Brown doubled to left field to bring home the Yankees’ second run. It was Brown’s third pinch-hit of the series. Shotton quickly sent Gregg to the showers and brought in Hank Behrman. As Gregg walked toward the dugout, the Dodgers achieved the dubious achievement of never having had a starter finish a game in the World Series.
It was Behrman’s fifth mound appearance in seven games. He also struggled with his control and was “apparently afflicted with Gregg’s malady”6 as he walked Stirnweiss to load the bases. Tommy Henrich then singled. Dixie Walker’s alert fielding allowed just Rizzuto score. Berra hit a sharp groundball that Jackie Robinson nabbed with a backhand stop to get the Dodgers out of the inning. But the Yankees scored two runs to give them the lead, 3-2.
Harris now called on Joe Page to take the mound. One day earlier Page had “taken a heavy battering from the Bums from Flatbush for a victory that kept the series hopes alive.”7 But Page had “carried the team on his back, picking up for faltering pitchers and carrying the club to victory” all season.8
Page pitched in 56 games that season, winning 14 and saving another 17. And so “out of the bullpen strode Page, the poised confident guy.”9 Now the Yankees needed him to come through one final time. Page got the Dodgers out in order in the fifth and continued to mow them down for the next four innings.
As Page held the Dodgers in check, the Yankees added to their lead. Rizzuto laid down a bunt in the sixth that went for a hit. After Behrman struck out Page and then walked Stirnweiss, he was removed for Joe Hatten. Hatten fanned Henrich but Allie Clark, pinch-hitting for Berra, singled in another run. Shotton brought in Rex Barney to finish the inning.
With Hugh Casey on the mound for Brooklyn in the seventh, Johnson tripled, his third of the Series. It was first time a player had accomplished this feat in the fall classic. Johnson scored on Aaron Robinson’s long fly ball to left. The Yankees now had a three-run lead.
The Dodgers finally got a runner on base with one out in ninth when Eddie Miksis singled. But Page did not let that runner stop him. Edwards hit into a double play and the “classic was over”10 as the Yankees won the championship. “The Yanks poured from their bench and mobbed Page. They almost pulled his great left arm off, and his right one, too.”11
“I had it today,” Page said after the game as he relaxed at his locker. “I only threw breaking stuff twice in this one. I threw a slider to Walker and a hook to somebody else. The rest were all fastballs and they were hopping every which way.”12
As for the Dodgers, they sent 27 pitchers to the mound during the Series but it was not enough. “Wildness was their main handicap throughout and [in the final game] seven Yankees received first base for standing up and waiting patiently.”13 The Dodgers pitchers gave up 38 free passes in the Series, breaking the previous record of 33.
Harris became the third Yankees manager to take the club to the championship. (The others were Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy) It was also the second time Harris had won a World Series in his first year at the helm of a club. He had previously taken the 1924 Washington Senators to the title in his first year as pilot.
It was also the 11th time the Yankees won the World Series, although “on this occasion they had to sweat for it. [The] Dodgers battled them right down to the limit.”14 For the Dodgers, it was the second time they had lost to the Yankees. They had lost to the Series in five games in 1941. This time they “came roaring back after a shabby beginning. But the Yanks for that seventh game had that something left that marks a champion.”15
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author used Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org for box-score, player, team, and season information as well as pitching and batting game logs, and other pertinent material.
1 Harold Burr, “Dodgers Flung 27 Tossers at Yanks,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 7, 1947: 11.
2 Joe Trimble, “Yanks Champs, Beat Dodgers 5-2,” New York Daily News, October 7, 1947: 59.
3 John Drebinger, “Yanks Win Series,” New York Times, October 7, 1947: 1.
5 Trimble, “Yanks Champs, Beat Dodgers.”
8 Trimble, “Yanks Champs, Beat Dodgers.”
11 Joe Trimble, “Yanks Champs, Trim Flock 5-2,” New York Daily News, October 7, 1947: 57.
12 Tommy Holmes, “As the Dodgers Reached the End of the Line,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 7,1947: 11.
13 Trimble, “Yanks Champs, Trim Flock.”